10 junio, 2024

Summary table: what it is for, elements, examples

A summary table It is a type of graphic organizer, in the form of a table, in which the most important concepts obtained on a particular topic are expressed. These concepts are expressed in a concise way, and are divided into different columns, which refer to different areas or thematic axes of the main theme.

The summary table is, in principle, very similar to a summary of a text. The differences are in the way the results are presented, being that of the summary table much shorter and more ordered than those of a text summary.

Therefore, thanks to the brevity and consistency of the concepts expressed in the table, as well as the order in which they are presented, the summary tables are very easy to interpret.


What is a summary table used for?

Some of the most outstanding functions or utilities of a summary table are the following:


By using a summary box, you can dump the content of very long text into a graphic, exposing only the most important parts of it.

easy interpretation

The information contained within a summary table is separated into areas or thematic axes, making it very easy to understand and interpret the text.

memorize concepts

Thanks to the brevity with which the concepts are expressed, and their distribution, it is very easy to memorize the information represented in the summary table.

Elements of the summary table

Although there is no single way to create a summary table, since the number of columns, rows, and even colors that can be used varies for each table, some of the most common elements of a summary table are the following:


The title is in charge of giving context to the summary table, it is the main theme on which the other elements are based.

The location of the title varies depending on each graph, although it is always located at the top of the summary box, it can be inside a box or outside it.


The categories or subtitles are one of the most important elements of the summary table, since they are in charge of specifying the different thematic axes or items that the summary will develop.

The number of categories that a summary table can contain varies for each case, although their location is always the same. These are located at the top of each column, below the title.

Optionally, the category boxes can be colored to make them stand out at first glance, and thus make the summary table easier to read.


The concepts are a type of elements that are not necessarily found in all the summary tables, this depends on the subject being treated and how it is diagrammed.

They are located one below the other in the first column on the left, under a category. Therefore, each text in the summary box will have to do with the thematic axis of the column in which it is found, and with the concept of the row to which it belongs.

For example, in a summary table that deals with the French Revolution, the concepts can refer to dates, so the text under each thematic axis will refer to a particular date.

As for the categories, you can also color the boxes of the concepts with the same color, or with a different one for each one of them, to achieve an easier reading.


The texts are the synthesized information extracted from the original text, and it is located inside a box, under each thematic axis to which it refers.

If the summary table also has a column of concepts, the text must refer to both the thematic axis and the concept.

How to make a summary table?

Below are the steps that must be taken into account to prepare a summary table.

choose theme

This is the first step and the most important of all. To develop a summary table, the first thing to have on hand is the topic on which the content will be searched and summarized.

This topic can be a historical event, the biography of a character, the information contained in a scientific text, among others.

Consult on the subject

Once it is clear what the topic to be summarized in the table will be, an exhaustive investigation must be carried out on it. In this way, it will be possible to identify the essential categories that will be located in each of the columns.

Set important categories

The categories in the summary table are those that encompass relevant aspects of the chosen topic. Within them, groups of data with common characteristics can be included.

For example, to develop a summary table about the Mayan civilization, some of the categories could be religion, gastronomy, economy, architecture, and political and social organization.

Draw the chart and locate the categories

The next step consists of drawing the table, where the categories and the data or concepts of the summary will be located. The number of rows or columns needed will correspond to the number of categories identified and the amount of data to be included in each category.

Additionally, the categories can be located at the top or first row, or at the left end of the table, or first column.

Here, colors can also be used that help to differentiate the row or column where the categories are included.

Write down the data

For this step, it is important to take into account that the reader or student must have carried out a previous exercise of synthesis of the information, in such a way that they have an idea about the data that will be included in each of the categories.

This is the step where the table is essentially filled with the data selected for each category. It is important to take into account that the nature of the summary table is to organize the information to facilitate its later review, therefore, the data must be located in an orderly and clear manner.

indicate the subject

Once the table is finished, the topic that is being addressed in it should be located at the top.


Here are some examples of summary tables:

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3


Summary table: What it is and how it differs from others. (2020). Retrieved from cuadro.xyz
3rd year Physics Editors. (2018). What is a summary chart? Retrieved from fisica3eroprofgenesisblancog.blogspot.com
Summary table example. (2017). Retrieved from emprendealconocimiento.blogspot.com
National Learning Service SENA. (2013). SUMMARY TABLE . Retrieved from studylib.es

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